Getting out of our comfort zone is one of the scariest steps to take. Thousands of years back, when humans lived in hunter-gatherer societies, falling out of your role and getting on a tribe elder’s bad side meant almost certain death.
You macked on the wrong woman or you dared speaking up against the chief? Out in the wild you went. Without any protection from bloodthirsty animals, harsh climate, enemy tribes etc.
So don’t court attention to your case! Don’t go where you don’t belong! Don’t approach a woman before she is ok with it!
That’s probably the reason why stories of people who dared to step out of their comfort zone are so inspiring to us. And this also means… there is a huge upside in doing this and taking a leap of faith.
I recently came upon Jia Jiang’s website. He took action every day – for three months straight – to do something out of his comfort zone. Playing soccer in someone’s back yard, borrowing $100 from a stranger, speaking over Costco’s intercom etc.
The more you challenge yourself, the more vulnerable you show yourself to be, the more you will grow. So there is a huge upside to braving your momentary discomfort.
Here are 10 ideas to get out of your comfort zone…
#1 – Sing Karaoke on an open mic night
This sounds a little scary, but as all the challenges, once you have done it, you are happy you pushed yourself. It can be an easier step if you regularly go to bars or night clubs. If that is not the case, I recommend a little practise before. Do each of the following steps until you feel comfortable, then move on to the next step.
- Once a day, smile towards a stranger.
- Once a day, smile and wave towards a stranger.
- Ask a stranger for the time and/or directions.
- Next time you get a coffee in a coffee shop, tell the cashier a baiting statement, for example: “yeah – I am actually not from here” or “you know, I just read another chapter in this book” or anything else from your life. Does not need to be world changing, just something about yourself. The other person will likely start asking you questions about it.
- Practise that more often until you feel comfortable having longer conversations.
- Go to a bar and just try to talk to 1 – 2 new people in there. Of course, you can do more! But don’t overwhelm yourself. Baby steps.
- Are you ready? Take the mic, select a song and sing!
You can google “Karaoke Open Mic” and see where in your town the next public Karaoke session takes place, go there, socialize a bit before, have some fun and enjoy.
These steps have been inspired by two sources: Good Looking Loser’s Approach Anxiety program (NSFW) and Cam Adair’s Game Quitters Challenge. This challenge builds up confidence and abundance and helps you develop a purpose, even if you are not looking to quit video games.
#2 – Tell a stranger you find him/her attractive
This is similar to singing Karaoke, except you may not have a whole bar watching. You can try it directly or use the same steps I outlined under #1 above.
Telling someone you find him/her attractive is really nothing bad, if you think about it. When I practised that extensively in the last two years, I’d always get some people that did not like it, yet others absolutely loved it – from the get go.
Think about it – you are making someone a compliment. On which planet is that something bad?
#3 – Go where you are “not supposed” to go
As a German, I grew up with the mindset of “obeying the law”. So a sign directs you to not keep your bikes inside the house, you park your bike outside. A sign on the door tells you you are not allowed to enter, you walk away.
A friend of mine who witnessed the famous Monday Demonstrations 1989 that led to the fall of the communist part of Germany said the protesters would march, then see a red traffic light, and stop.
That’s how you curb revolutions in Germany: place a traffic light in people’s path.
Sometimes offices are not that secluded. It could be an open space behind a bar. Of course nobody goes there, because we respect privacy.
But we also don’t go there because we are afraid to butt heads with the authorities. Same applies to areas that are cordoned off.
So next time you are in a bar or a place where there is a space roped off, just go past the rope. Be careful that you don’t do anything illegal, but just step behind the line. I bet it is much less worse than you thought it’d be.
#4 – Skip the line
Most night clubs have a VIP entrance. And they have the normal entrance, where normally a big line is forming.
Just walk through the VIP entrance as if you were a celebrity. If the bouncers keep you back, that’s ok. But at least you tried it.
If you are not a big fan of bars, you can try cutting the line in a grocery store. Smile while you do it, and try to hold your place for 1 – 2 minutes. Then you can yield your place again, if you wish.
#5 – Stand up in a restaurant and tell a joke to everyone
You get a bonus if the joke is somewhat dirty. You stand up, exclaim “excuse me, can I have your attention?” and place your joke. Smile and sit down again.
#6 – Tell a stranger a story.
Embarrassing details. Or not. Could be your life story. Or your hopes and dreams. Once again, if you feel uncomfortable talking to strangers to begin with – go through the steps outlines under #1 above.
#7 – Ask a passenger on the commute if you can have his/her seat.
You don’t need to take it, but you want to walk up to someone seated and ask them respectfully if they could yield their seats, please. They will most likely yield.
#8 – Call someone who you admire and ask him (or her) if he can meet up for a coffee.
Try to think of something you can give that person. Send him or her a book review or some ideas for his business… whatever comes to your mind. Audacity, audacity – always audacity.
Chances are you will have something in common, or that person would not be on your radar.
Once you pitched something valuable to give, ask him or her to come for a coffee. Preferably close to his or her office, to make it as easy as possible on them.
You can stop after the first attempt no matter the answer you get. Or you try to call more people until someone says yes…
#9 – Next time you visit a concert venue or theater, go through the artist’s entrance.
At least when I played in an orchestra, there would be no controls backstage. Anyone could walk in. It takes guts to do that.
#10 – Crash a party
Next time you see a party going on, just walk in and start talking to people. If it’s a closed affair, apologize in a friendly manner and leave. If not, just stay on and have some fun!
If you want to check out “Become an Idea Machine”, you can do so here.
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